What our culture says about America

Despite secularization : In the United States, quotes from the Bible are politics

Who has God with them on all their coins and banknotes? The United States of America. “In God We Trust”, the state's motto is embossed on every coin. The motto is emblazoned in the House of Representatives between the clock and the flag. There are license plates of some states with this motto, as well as schools and universities. America has also become more and more secular, but still far more religious than the European states.

The god that is proclamatively built on here is not assigned to a denomination, but an expression of the basic understanding that there is a higher power beyond the worldly.

The sentence does not literally exist in the Bible, but there are psalms such as 91.2 or 40.4 or 118.8 that come very close to the motto. Two suras in the Koran give it verbatim. The omnipresence of God is also documented on the one-dollar bill through the eye of God, according to Proverbs 15: 3: “The eyes of God see both the wicked and the pious in every place.” And all of this with a strict separation of state and religion. The pilgrims who went out to practice their religion and not the prescribed religion wanted it that way.

Notes from the 2nd book of Moses

Millions of people around the world have just listened to the inaugural speech of the new President Joe Biden. Like many of these speeches since the inauguration of George Washington, it has not been able to do without quotations from the Bible. Biden quoted verse 6 from the 30th Psalm: "... weeping goes on in the evening, but joy in the morning." And he encouraged the American people "to open the soul instead of hardening our hearts," a reference to 2. Book of Moses, 7th chapter, verse 13 "So Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not hear her ...".

When you quote the Bible, you should mean it honestly. Few considered Donald Trump to be a religious person, he even held the Bible the wrong way around during a controversial appearance and quoted in 2016 from "Two Corinthians", where it should have been "Second Corinthians", because there are two Corinthians.

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Such things cast doubt on the seriousness of a politician and make the biblical reference untrustworthy. Republicans cite the Bible, it is believed, because their clientele is generally considered to be more religious, and Democrats because they want to suggest that they are not quite as godless as their reputation suggests.

Biblical quotations are rather unusual in Europe

Psalms appear preferentially in the great presidential speeches, just like the references to the Hebrew Bible in general surpass those to the New Testament. John F. Kennedy quoted Isaiah 58, verse 6: “Let go of those you have wrongly bound; let go of those you weigh down; release the ones you urge ... ". Incidentally, the first Catholic president is the leader of the biblical citations with five quotes. Washington once referred to Psalm 82, Jefferson to Exodus, Lincoln to Genesis, Psalm 19 and Matthew.

Biden not only swore by hand on the 125-year-old family Bible, his references to the Bible were part of the presidential political tradition. Even in our day and age, there still seems to be some value in Bible words to American listeners, a kind of cultural affirmation.

In Europe such excursions into the biblical treasure trove are rather unusual - except perhaps the occasional reference to the Sermon on the Mount. No chancellor (even if she is a pastor's daughter), no president or their speechwriter would think of using words from the Bible so often.

"In God we Trust" is written on the US coins

Of course, no politician would come up with the idea of ​​closing a televised address with the words “God bless you, God bless Germany!”. The Germans have become the pathos-free zone for good reasons. The French at least let France celebrate “Vive la France!”.

America's religious foundation seems to hold up even with increasing secularization. A country founded by religious refugees whose only book in the house was often the Bible, which they (unlike today) also knew. In a 2003 survey, 90 percent of those questioned supported the state's motto such as the coins “In God We Trust”.

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